The 19-times champion jockey announced that this will be his last season in the saddle after registering his 200th win of the season on Mr Mole on Saturday before recording an emotional triumph in the Hennessy Gold Cup on Carlingford Lough at Leopardstown 24 hours later.
In the past sporting greats like Brian O’Driscoll, Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali have gone back on decisions to retire.
However, writing in these pages friend and rival Ruby Walsh said he would be “astounded” if McCoy was to have a change of heart.
Yesterday, McCoy insisted his decision is final.
“No, no, I don’t do whiparounds or changing my mind,” he said when asked if the possibility of reaching 5,000 career wins could persuade him to stick around a while yet.
“It’s not something I’m proud of but I’m a very stubborn, selfish person. I’m not likely to change now.”
Were he not so stubborn, the 40-year-old said the reception after Carlingford Lough’s victory was the sort that could have made him think again.
However, he revealed the fear of hanging on too long played a part in his decision.
He told Newstalk Breakfast: “When you see the reaction and affection that was shown yesterday in Leopardstown by people, days like that I’ll never forget. The emotion and affection that was shown afterwards sent tingles down the back of my spine.
“If anything would make you change your mind that certainly would but I’ve always been frightened of carrying on too long. I’ve always been frightened of people thinking that maybe I wasn’t as good as I once was. I’ve always wanted to have people asking me why I was retiring not why I wasn’t retiring.”
McCoy admits he has no idea what he will do post-riding but training won’t be an option as he’d “fail miserably”.
“I’ve honestly got no idea [what I’ll do],” he admitted. “It’s something I’ve always said I’d never think about, that my life as a jockey would be self-centred and all about being a jockey and not think about what was going to happen at the other side.
“Training is very difficult. If I ever thought about training I’d actually think about being a flat trainer more than a jumps trainer. But then you’re taking on Jim Bolger and Aidan O’Brien. You’ve got somebody like Aidan who’s won 11 Irish Derbies and he’s five years older than me so that’s knocked that on the head. There’s no point in having a go at being a trainer as coming along behind somebody like Aidan O’Brien I’d fail miserably. I’m not going down that route so what happens I honestly don’t know.”
McCoy was similarly vague when asked when specifically he would finish riding and if Irish racing fans would see get a chance to say an emotional goodbye at the Punchestown festival.
“It’s one day at a time. Honestly I don’t know what’s going to happen. I just want to enjoy what’s left on my riding career and when that may happen, I honestly don’t know,” he said.
What is certain is that, injury permitting, McCoy will be around for Cheltenham and Aintree.
And McCoy believes his final visit to the Cotswolds as a jockey can be a successful one.
He said: “The Cheltenham team is kind of coming together now. More Of That is hopefully coming back in time for the World Hurdle, Carlingford Lough is obviously in the mix for the Gold Cup, Mr Mole has been rejuvenated — I don’t know what Paul Nicholls has done with him but he’s made him into a racehorse now and he’ll go to the Champion Chase with a chance. Hopefully there’ll be plenty to look forward to.”
Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson yesterday added his tribute to McCoy.
He said: “I am pleased Tony has picked his moment to decide when it is right for him to retire.
“Only people who have had to live with great expectations can understand why they should go out at the top. That expectation is indescribable, losing was never an option for Tony. Only winning mattered.
“It drove him through injury after injury on the quest to be the best ever. As he approaches the winning post in his career, he goes with the best accolade and that is the success never changed him.
“I believe that only true champions understand the value of humility and that is what stands out in the character of Tony McCoy.”
After Sunday’s win Carlingford Lough’s connections have the Cheltenham Gold Cup firmly in their sights.
“That was very good. He won nicely and stayed on well. [Trainer] John Kiely had him in great shape and it was a great day,” said Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus.
“I don’t see why he can’t go for the Gold Cup after that. It’s an open race. You’d like to think they all performed up to their best on Sunday.
“He’s come out of the race good this morning. If he’s OK in the next couple of weeks, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t go there.”